College Football, SEC

Vanderbilt Football: McGugin Center

Nashville was our second stop on our 10-day family vacation across Tennessee! This city is absolutely incredible. I’ve even considered dropping everything and moving here. Seriously! If you haven’t been, it’s an absolute must! We made some great food stops at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, the Merchants, and Biscuit Love and then did some bar hopping on Broadway. The best of all was Mike’s Ice Cream though just off of Broadway. That was some of the best ice cream I’ve had! Just behind the Creamery at Penn State. I’m not sure anything can top that birthday cake ice cream they have.
Music City is also home to our SEC competitor, the Vanderbilt Commodores. Vanderbilt is a school known heavily for academics but they also have a lot of sports history. Their baseball team most recently went to the College World Series Championship three years in a row, winning their trip in 2014.
So anyone that knows me, knows that Vanderbilt is my dream school. Partly because it’s in Nashville and, come on, who doesn’t love Nashville? And partly because I’ve just always had a thing for Vanderbilt. Maybe it’s the academics, maybe it’s the colors (’cause I’m a girl, come on). But for whatever reason, I dream of working for this school! So hint, hint anyone out there reading…
Jeremy Pinkney is a senior at Vanderbilt majoring in Communication Studies and was kind enough to show us around a little. SEC helps SEC out, you know. Jeremy was also from Atlanta so we talked Falcons for awhile, too.
This time of the year is vacation time for football coaching staffs so the facility was pretty quiet people-wise and also under construction. After June summer camps and right before fall ball, staffs have anywhere between two and four weeks off to travel or hang with their families. Speaking from experience in the football world, it’s a year-round job. So right after National Signing Day in February and before fall ball in August are really the only times they get off – not Thanksgiving, not Christmas, not Spring Break… none of the normal holidays! Thanksgiving? Season. Christmas? Getting ready for a bowl game. Spring Break and Easter? Spring practice and Junior Days. It takes a special person to work in football, that’s for sure!

So this is Vanderbilt’s Football Facility, which is technically unnamed, when it’s pretty and sunny. This was Tuesday. We headed up to Vanderbilt on Sunday, when it was definitely not pretty and sunny… but we made do.

Rain and ugly weather didn’t put too bad of a damper on our vacation though – the inside of the facility is still really cool, and we used the rain as an excuse to park ourselves at the bars on Broadway and listen to some country music!

Just about every school has some team entry on game days. Vanderbilt’s is called the Star Walk, and it comes straight from the football facility, out the door and into their stadium tunnel. Personally I like it this way – this was the way it was done at Texas Tech – but nowadays, stadium’s are being built further off campus and you have to bus your team in on game days – like LSU.

Like I mentioned during my trip to Tennessee Football, I really like athletic facilities that are connect their teams and athletic departments. Vanderbilt’s is the same way, for the most part. I believe their basketball and baseball teams are housed in their stadiums instead of the McGugin Center, but everyone else is housed here. The McGugin Center is directly connected to Vanderbilt’s Football Facility and houses the rest of the athletic departments and sports.

For starters, I love Vanderbilt’s color scheme. Gold and black. Super simple… and those colors look good on me! Everything is so nicely done in this facility. It is really, really dark though, since their main background color is black. We took a very indirect route through the facility, so this is actually upstairs on the second floor.
The black wasn’t an issue for me until I was downstairs and then I felt like it could’ve used a little more light. You’ll see what I mean in a minute. But on a positive note, I really liked the four banners they did incorporating the experience of being at Vanderbilt. These kids are exposed to a GREAT education!

Best part of college football? Oh, the rivalries. They are the absolute best. The Tennessee Volunteers are Vanderbilt’s in-state and in-conference rival. And it’s displayed all over the place! Notice anything about the white board above? Take a look at that Tennessee “T” – no color and it’s upside down. Sneaky! Love it. Side note: if you want to take a look inside their rival’s facilities and see how they compare, check that out here!
Tennessee’s had a bit of a losing streak in their rivalry game lately, and Vanderbilt’s not letting them forget it either. They have an entire wall dedicated to the defeat of their rivals the last two years. The images on that wall are also all picture excerpts from each game they’ve won against Tennessee in the past. This is right outside their film room, too, and I bet that’s no coincidence!

And, of course, this is displayed right outside of the main film room. No coincidence there, either.

We all know that there isn’t a shortage of pride in the Southeastern Conference. I definitely love that aspect of working the SEC. Every facility in the SEC that I’ve visited so far has a display dedicated to the conference. Personally, my favorite so far has been Kentucky’s (check it out here).

The coaches offices are also housed up here off of this wing, but since everyone is on vacation there really isn’t much for y’all to see. Or myself. It happens.

This was actually the entrance that we came into. This is where the Star Walk starts indoors, and then continues like I said up above. The water walls were a really unique thing to me!

This area was where I mentioned the walls were a little dark. Not that I’m in any position to judge, and it was probably more of a thing because the weather outside was so bad. But their NFL display was pretty cool! Vanderbilt’s most noted NFL alumni is probably Jay Cutler (who, for you girls, is married to Kristin Cavallari). He played for the Chicago Bears for a long time and just got traded to the Miami Dolphins. I’ll be seeing him in December! Well… mainly seeing Danny Amendola. But Jay will be there, too!

This is the locker room entrance, but it’s under construction. Notice a pattern? Coach vacation equals construction time! For small renovations, it really is the only time to do that kind of stuff.

The end of this hallway was actually my favorite part of the facility. The Commodores are a naval themed school, and the doors to their weight room are submarine doors. Sounds silly but I thought that was so awesome! Their weight room was closed on Sunday, also, so we didn’t head in there either.
But we did head over to Vanderbilt Stadium!

Vanderbilt Stadium and Hawkins Field are actually connected, which I’ve never seen before! I thought it was pretty cool. You walk in the main gates off of the road and you’re in both the football stadium and the baseball stadium. They lock the gates to the sections of one or the other depending on which event is going on, but that’s still pretty cool! You can go over to the baseball side and see their 2014 National Championship trophy, too.

Vanderbilt’s football stadium is pretty outdated as you can tell. But for such an academically sound school, it really isn’t that surprising. There was a little construction going on around the outskirts of the stadium. But this is really all they need with a small private school student body number. And it’s great for what they need! Just enough suites and their press box. Their scoreboard is beautiful, though, and gorgeous landscaping around it. It’s plain – but I really enjoyed getting to see it!
At some point, a game in this stadium is on my checklist, too. As random as it might sound, I would love to see them play Wake Forest. Both very academically known schools with the same colors.
Later this week, I’ll be posting my tour of Nissan Stadium from my friend, Kristen! Stay tuned for that as well as a quick look inside of Vanderbilt’s baseball stadium!



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